Jaguar’s baby F-Pace spied testing again

Latest spy shots of baby Jaguar SUV show it wearing the same F-Pace inspired disguise, and with the same powertrain.

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Jaguar has unveiled the I-Pace concept at the LA Motor Show – a concept car previewing the firm’s first all-electric model due in 2018 – but our latest spy shots suggest that attention hasn’t been diverted away from a small, conventional SUV to sit underneath the F-Pace.

We spied the car for the first time in February, our photographers spotting a modified Range Rover Evoque testing on roads near JLR headquarters in Gaydon, Warks. A DVLA plate check revealed that it was registered as a Jaguar, not a Land Rover.

Our second sighting took place this summer, with the car wearing a more appropriate, modified Jaguar F-Pace body. The latest spy shots we’ve received are of a car wearing the same disguise and we reckon that these photographs capture another testing mule for Jaguar’s baby SUV.

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Just like last time, a licence plate check reveals that this car has been registered as a 2.0-litre diesel electric hybrid, hinting that JLR is working on alternative powertrains to help the LR-MS chassis through the next decade. Petrol or diesel-based hybrid tech would see CO2 drop below 100g/km, and could allow fuel economy of more than 70mpg. As with the Evoque, the baby Jag is unlikely to benefit from more powerful six-cylinder engines, focusing on refined four-cylinder units.

The car is expected to go on sale within the next two years, priced from around £28,000. It was also previously thought to be called Jaguar E-Pace, although that name is now unlikely to be used.

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Due to design constraints, Jaguar is not able to use a shortened version of the F-Pace’s chassis for the smaller car. Instead, the new model is expected to be based on the smaller (and older) Evoque. This is the same LR-MS chassis found on the Land Rover Discovery Sport, which isn’t due for replacement until 2022 at the earliest – proving there’s plenty of life in the platform.

Jaguar’s chief designer Ian Callum suggested earlier this year that any smaller model would need to move to a transverse-engined layout. “We’ve done front-wheel-drive studies, because everybody knows that if you go smaller than XE or F-Pace, you’ve no choice but to go that way,” he said.

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“The only way you’re going to get the look on the car is to turn the engine sideways. It is challenging, and we’ve clearly looked at how we could do it. You get that long snout otherwise, which looks out of proportion.”

As such, entry-level editions of the small car could be front-wheel drive – the first Jag to use that layout since the X-Type, and the extremely short rear overhang suggests Jaguar is testing a platform with front-wheel-drive in mind. Four-wheel drive will be offered on the bulk of the range, though, including the more powerful variants.

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As the XF followed in the footsteps of the XE, we anticipate Jag’s smaller SUV to take design cues from the F-Pace. The flat nose – also evident on the Evoque mule – will remain, but with shorter overhangs (the alteration to the rear is particularly evident on this mule).

This is likely to ensure a smaller cabin and reduced boot space, although the car should be more than a match for rivals like the BMW X1 and forthcoming Mercedes GLB. It will be more practical than an Evoque, too, as its wheelbase should be slightly longer.

We’d expect official information to be revealed next year, ahead of showroom-ready models arriving in 2018.

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